This is a season of pre
dictions, not just for what becomes of the New Year in the long run, but what lies in the belly of the forthcoming general elections in the country. Thus, when the popular Enugu catholic priest and founder of the Adoration Ministry, Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka chose to be partisan in his liberation theology, Nigerians began to question the authenticity of his messages to his numerous admirers.
Rev Mbaka’s messages concerning President Goodluck Jonathan at two different fora form the basis of judgement on the style, colour and what the priest stands for in politics of the time.
In November 2014, Rev Mbaka played host to First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and others at his Enugu parish where he told the First Lady that her husband had “done well” and deserved another tenure at the Aso Rock, in spite of the distractions apparently referring to the issues of terrorism and insecurity in Nigeria.
The priest did not stop there. He defended President Jonathan for not saving the Chibok school girls, adding that “campaigners on the Chibok girls’ abduction have no reason asking the President to return the girls’ home since Mr. Jonathan was not keeping them.”
Fr. Mbaka who said he heard his message from “above” offered special players for President Jonathan to win the re-election and excel in leadership. Dame Patience was special guest of honour at the 2014 annual thanksgiving and bazaar of Fr. Mbaka’s parish church. She took a bible reading from Genesis, chapter 12:2-3.
However, about a month after the visit of the First Lady, the catholic priest made a dramatic u-turn on Goodluck Jonathan and started singing discordant tunes about the President’s re-election bid. In his new year message, delivered on the eve of 2015, Rev Mbaka lambasted and warned President Jonathan to forget about his 2015 re-election bid and allow his main opponent, Muhammadu Buhari to be the next President
Apart from calling on President Jonathan to “quietly resign” for failing to tackle the insecurity and corruption in the land, the catholic priest also said that Nigeria would be doomed if President Jonathan is re-elected. He recalled the November meeting with the First Lady, and said the “spiritual drama” he performed that day using pigeons, showed that the President would lose the forthcoming elections.
According to him, four pigeons were freed from the cage to fly up but the one that represented Mr. Jonathan refused to move even though it was the healthiest.
The first question that emerges from Rev Mbaka’s spiritual drama is that the other three pigeons that flew away represented who and who? Again, why did he not disclose the outcome of the “spiritual drama” at the November session with Dame Patience? Could Fr. Mbaka have compromised his spirituality with the fallout of the visit of the First Lady at his church’s bazaar?
Or could it be that the catholic priest uses different spiritual colours to attend spiritual/political sessions and that, by and large, determine the colouration of his spiritual interpretations on political issues?
However, an Anglican Archbishop believed that Fr. Mbaka was settled for him to change gear on the first family. The Archbishop of Enugu Anglican Province and Bishop of Enugu, Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, said, “Fr. Mbaka should declare to the world how much he collected from the opponent for him to say all he said against Dr. Jonathan.”
Reacting to Fr. Mbaka’s new year message at his adoration ground, Archbishop Chukwuma recalled First Lady’s visit to Mbaka’s adoration ground in November 2014 where he alleged she (Dame Patience) doled out N5 million and the catholic priest eulogized the President, urging him to continue in his good works without fear or favour only to turn back suddenly to make negative statements about him.
The Anglican archbishop, however, called on Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria to check Fr. Mbaka with a view to curbing his excesses.
The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) also expressed concern over the excesses of its priest. The Secretary-General of CSN, Rev. Fr. Ralph Madu, distanced the Catholic Church from Fr. Mbaka’s comments on President Jonathan and the forthcoming general elections, saying they were his personal opinion.
He said some charismatic leaders who claim that they are getting their inspiration from the holy spirit or from God, should not open their mouth wide but pass their message in a manner that is acceptable, considering the explosive nature of the country and other factors.
But the All Progressives Congress (APC) praised Fr. Mbaka’s criticisms of President Jonathan administration for what the party called “his uncommon concern for the down-trodden and for being the advocate of the masses and the voice of the voiceless”.
APC which reacted through its South East spokesperson, Osita Okechukwu, described Fr. Mbaka as a liberation theologian, noting that President Jonathan “is a shoeless man that abandoned the shoeless when he ascended to power. Fr. Mbaka is 100 percent correct.”
He slammed the President for “monumental corruption” of his administration and also accused him of having squandered unprecedented crude oil and gas revenue resulting in Nigeria sliding back into the dangerous loop of foreign debt trap.
On Monday, January 6, 2015, pro-Buhari supporters engaged their pro-Jonathan counterparts in a war of words at the old market road in the commercial city of Onitsha where the former insisted that there was nothing wrong in what Fr. Mbaka said. According to the pro-Buhari group, Rev. Mbaka only gave the message of God to save the ailing country from the hands of President Jonathan.
However, leader of pro-Jonathan group and chairman of Newspaper Distributors Association, Onitsha, Jude Isiguzo, lambasted Fr. Mbaka for attacking President Jonathan, describing his action as against the principle of evangelisation. He said there is no alternative to President Jonathan and that his re-election is God’s making not man’s.
Further dissecting Dr. Mbaka’s fierce attack on Jonathan titled “From Goodluck to Bad Luck,” Onyiorah Paschal Chiduluemije, said there is nothing wrong for Fr. Mbaka hosting the First Lady and using pigeons which supposedly signify peace.He, however, believes there is certainly something wrong with the catholic priest to say that the one pigeon, out of the four pigeons, that refused to fly up represented President Jonathan.
Contrary to the claim that Fr. Mbaka was not partisan, Paschal argues that the catholic priest is actually partisan for him to have singled out one of the pigeons as representing Nigeria’s No. 1 citizen.
The second Niger bridge which Jonathan promised Ndigbos during his first term is taking donkey years to be accomplished. Perhaps, this provides the prism from which some aspects of Fr. Mbaka’s outburst could be well situated. But issues pertaining to development are hardly discussed in isolation.
While Jonathan administration cannot be spared for delaying the construction of the second Niger bridge, praises ought to be showered on him for his developmental legacies in Igboland by way of appointments into key government positions and the building of an international airport of world-class standard in Enugu, after decades of misrule and marginalisation of the Igbos in national project.
Unarguably, insecurity has challenged Jonathan administration more than past administrations but that is not to say that his government has not been responsible enough in tackling insurgency within the ambit of the laws as well as the limit of rules of engagement available to the Nigerian military and other security agencies operating n the evil axis of the North.
Govs To Hold Virtual Meeting On Judicial, Legislative Autonomy
The Governors of the 36 states of the federation will hold a virtual meeting today to further discuss the issue of financial autonomy to judicial and legislative arms in states.
This is contained in a statement by NGF Head of Media and Public Affairs, Mr Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo on Monday in Abuja.
Bello-Barkindo said efforts were already being made in all states to either constitute State Accounts Allocation Committees (SAAC) or inaugurate them.
This, according to him, is preparatory to the granting of full autonomy to the two arms of government at the subnational level.
The Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) had since embarked on a nationwide strike on the issue.
He said the governors had been working day and night to establish modalities for the autonomy in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution.
He said that the governors would also be updated on the activities of the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19 by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, who headed the governors’ interface with the committee.
Bello-Barkindo said that the meeting would also review the agenda of the National Executive Council (NEC), which would take place a day after.
“Other items on the agenda include the regular update on the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability for results (SFTAS) to provide states’ status on their DLI’s and upcoming deadlines.
The meeting would also receive presentation from the Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises, regarding unlocking liquidity through sale/optimisation of state-owned redundant/sub-optimal assets,” he said.
He added that the Policy Development Facility (PDF) bridge programme would also discuss diversification and non-oil export opportunities for states in post Covid-19 era.
2023: PDP Flexes Muscle Over C’ River
Leading members of the main opposition PDP converged in Calabar, Cross River at the weekend to strategise on how to retain its grip on power in the state.
This is contained in a statement e-mailed to newsmen in Abuja, yesterday.
The Tide source reports that the PDP has been in power in Cross River since the return of democracy in the country 22 years ago but the defection of the current governor appears to mark a turning point.
Political pundits argue that the defection of the state Governor Ben Ayade from the PDP to the ruling APC may affect the fortunes of the PDP in the years ahead.
The governor’s departure is now seen as a major test for the PDP in what is now seen as a game of wits between the PDP and the APC.
Addressing the party’s chieftains, the National Chairman of the party, Mr Uche Secondus, declared that Cross River would “remain the stronghold of the PDP, in spite of Gov. Ayade’s defection.
“PDP will work to retain the confidence the people of Cross River State reposed in our party and retain its dominance in the state.
“Our party has governed since the return of party politics in 1999.
“Cross River will remain the stronghold of our party well after 2023,’’ said Secondus, flanked by other chieftains of the party, including Sen. Bukola Saraki and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
Secondus told PDP members in the state to remain resolute to make the party retain power in the upcoming general elections.
Also speaking, a former governor of the state, Sen. Liyel Imoke, gave assurance that no other party would take the state from the PDP, “being the dominant party in the state.
“PDP is the only party known to our people. I assure the leadership of our party that we will deliver victory in 2023,’’ he stated.
Imoke governed the state from 2007 to 2015 when he handed over to Ayade now of the APC.
Other PDP chieftains, who were present at the event included former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra, former Gov. Donald Duke of Cross River and the Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee, Mr Efiok Cobham.
Also present were Hon. Daniel Asuquo, Hon. Etta Mbora and Hon. Essien Ayi, all serving members of the House of Representatives among other party’s chieftains.
…Vows To Take Over Anambra
The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu, says the party remains focused to take over the state in the upcoming governorship poll.
Nwobu said this in an interview with newsmen in Awka yesterday, adding that he would not be distracted by those trying to destabilise the party in the state.
He lauded the National Executive Committee of the party for organising successful ward congresses in the state.
He described the success of the exercise as a sure step to the party’s free, fair and credible primary election.
“We want to conduct our primary election, where party people will freely vote and produce a candidate that will be acceptable to Anambra people at the November 6 poll.
“This is not time for distractions. We are focused on taking over government from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
“The party has shortchanged millions of Anambra people in terms of governance.
Nwobu said he remained the valid chairman of PDP in Anambra, having emerged from a valid process that was upheld by a Federal High Court in its May 24, 2018 judgment.
He said the judgment had not been reversed by any higher court and was “unfazed by any court judgment”, which purportedly removed him.
“My leadership is still subsisting, no superior court has set that judgment aside and a court of coordinate jurisdiction cannot do that.
“Our team of legal experts is taking care of that. The decision to appeal will be advised,” the PDP chairman said.
The Tide source reports that Chief Chukwudi Umeaba at the weekend announced that he had taken over the party in the state as the Acting Chairman of the Caretaker Committee.
Umeaba, who announced the suspension of the ward congresses, said his action was predicated on the judgment of an Abuja Federal High Court.
According to him, the judgment delivered on June 9, nullified the process that produced Nwobu’s leadership.
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